To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what he steps he is taking to accelerate online access to the NHS Healthy Start scheme in order to improve access to healthy food for pregnant women and young children in low-income families during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.
We are currently developing a digital approach to Healthy Start, which will make it easier for families to apply for, receive and use Healthy Start benefits.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we have made a number of changes to assist beneficiaries of the Healthy Start Scheme, such as the removal for the requirement for a healthcare professional signature on the Healthy Start application form. This supports people to apply for the scheme and reduces pressure on healthcare professionals. All families who are eligible for Healthy Start continue to receive an invitation to apply for the scheme, together with a pre-populated application form. In addition, we have temporarily extended the validity period of three sets of Healthy Start vouchers, from eight weeks to 12 weeks, and will keep this under review.